[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Lower Saucon 3-2-1988 by Ord. No. 88-8; amended in its entirety 8-20-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-08. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Council of Lower Saucon Township hereby recognizes that the growth of a variety of vegetation within the Township boundaries promotes diversity and enriches the quality of life for all Township residents. However, the Council also recognizes that the reasonable regulation of the growth of such vegetation will protect the public health, safety, and welfare and also protect the property rights of all residents of the Township. Therefore, it is the intent of this chapter to encourage the use of wildflower and other native plants while at the same time ensuring that such vegetative growth does not become a threat to the public health, safety and welfare.
This chapter may be known and cited as the "Lower Saucon Township Weed and Visual Obstruction Ordinance."
[Amended 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-11]
No person, firm, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity owning or occupying any property within the Township of Lower Saucon shall permit any grass, weeds, or other uncultivated herbaceous vegetation, to grow or remain upon such property at a height in excess of 12 inches within 25 feet of any property line or roadway. The growth of any such vegetation within the Township of Lower Saucon in violation of the provisions of this chapter is hereby declared to be a nuisance and detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the Township and its residents. The prohibitions contained in this chapter shall not be applicable to any stormwater facilities where such prohibitions would be detrimental to the proper functioning of said facilities, nor shall the same prohibitions be applicable within the boundaries of any riparian corridor as such areas are defined within Chapter 180, Zoning, of the Code of Lower Saucon Township; this restriction shall not apply to forest lands and tree lines.
The owner or occupant of any vacant or occupied property located within the Township of Lower Saucon shall be responsible for removing, maintaining, and cutting all grass, weeds, or other uncultivated vegetation located on said property which violates the provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to cutting or removing such grass, weeds, or other uncultivated vegetation within one month prior or subsequent to May 1 and October 1 of each year.
In order to provide free and unobstructed views at or near the intersection of roads and highways within the Township, in any direction, for persons traveling upon said roads or highways, no person, firm, corporation, partnership or other legal entity owning or occupying any property within the Township of Lower Saucon shall permit on a corner lot, within the triangular area (shown in the figure below), any hedge, shrub, weed or other vegetation or growth to be maintained at a height in excess of two feet, except that trees whose branches are trimmed away to a height of at least 10 feet above the curb level shall be permitted. Such triangular area shall be determined by the intersecting street center lines and a diagonal connecting two points, one at each street center line, each of which is 75 feet from the intersection of such street center lines.
A determination of whether any vegetation is in violation of this section and constitutes a traffic hazard shall be made on the basis of an inspection by the Chief of Police or the Zoning Officer of the Township of Lower Saucon in conjunction with the Township Engineer, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 6112.
Upon notification to the owner or occupant of premises upon which vegetation constituting a traffic hazard exists, it shall be the duty of the owner or occupant of the premises to remove from the property any tree, plant, shrub, hedge, weed or other similar obstruction, or part thereof, which is obstructing the view of any driver in the area of said intersection.
It shall be the duty of the Chief of Police or the Zoning Officer of the Township of Lower Saucon to give notice by personal service or United States Mail to the owner or occupant, as the case may be, of any premises whereon grass, weeds or other uncultivated vegetation of any kind is growing or remaining in violation of any provisions of this chapter, directing and requiring such owner or occupant to undertake and remove, trim or cut or abate or cause to be abated or removed any such vegetation, so as to conform to the requirements of this chapter within 10 days after issuance of such notice.
In case any person, firm, corporation, partnership or other legal entity shall neglect, fail to refuse to comply with such notice within the period of time stated therein and remain in violation of the provisions of this chapter, the Township authorities may remove, trim or cut said vegetation in violation of this chapter, and the cost thereof, together with any additional penalty authorized by the law, may be collected by the Township from said owner or occupant in the manner as provided by law.
In addition to the remedies and penalties contained in the preceding sections, the Township, upon discovering property containing vegetation which constitutes a traffic hazard and interferes with or obstructs the vision of persons traveling upon any highways or roadways of the Township, may condemn that section of real property containing the offensive vegetation causing said traffic hazard pursuant to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, 53 P.S. § 67312. Upon such condemnation, the Township may abate or remove or cause to be abated and removed any such vegetation deemed to be obstructing the view across such lands located at or near the intersection of any two roads. Pursuant to said condemnation, the Township shall pay the owner of such vegetation such damages as assessed for any property taken, injured or destroyed, said assessment to be taken in the manner provided by proceedings of eminent domain.
Upon the condemnation of such view, the owner of such real property may make every such use thereof as will not interfere with a free and unobstructed view at such intersection and, unless specially provided for in any such condemnation proceedings, such condemnation shall not be construed to prevent the owner thereof from using such land for pasture or the growing of grass, oats, wheat or other crops which will not obstruct the vision of persons traveling upon any such roadways.
Upon condemnation of such view, the Township may enter said property for the purpose of abating or removing any such vegetation in order to maintain the free and unobstructed view, and the costs thereof incurred by the Township may be collected by the Township from such person, firm, corporation, partnership or other legal entity in the manner provided by law.
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by action brought before a District Justice in the same manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. Any person who violates or permits the violation of this chapter shall upon conviction in a summary proceeding, be punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000. Each day or portion thereof that such violation continues or is permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense. Each section of this chapter that is violated shall also constitute a separate offense.